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Manage your e-mail so that it does not rule your workday


If you sit at a computer for most of the day, it's tempting to constantly check your e-mail to see


 what's new. But that's a time management disaster if you're trying to make progress in your business.

Resist the temptation. Here are some tips to help you get that time-eating monster under control.

  • Turn off e-mail notification. It's just like a ringing phone that demands to be answered. Even in the instant world that exists today, e-mail can wait.

  • Establish a schedule for checking and responding to e-mails. Put it in your daily calendar and treat the time like an important meeting. Make sure you allocate a start and stop time. Reading and responding to e-mail can become an all-day affair.

  • Train your clients and customers on your response method and timing. Predictability will take your business relationships a long way, and you'll be a lot better off.

  • Set up files, folders and e-mail rules in your e-mail software to help you manage the type of messages you receive. Consider using your software's flag option to recognize e-mails that are critical.

  • Use your least productive time of day to read those "important-but-not-urgent" e-mails such as newsletters and general information items.

And don't forget to reassess the mail you receive on a regular basis, too.

Denise O'Berry is a small-business consultant in Tampa, Fla. Contact her at

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